THERE might be a solar eclipse on Tuesday, but here at Sun Racing we’re far more excited about a different kind of Eclipse.
There have been some epic contests over the last couple of decades, and we’ve been down memory lane to look at a quintet of the very best.
2 Medicean (near-side) noses ahead of the rest in the 2001 editionCredit: PA:Press Association
Medicean – 2001
This was a Kieren Fallon special.
The flailing arms of racing’s colonel were at their most wild when guiding home Sir Michael Stoute’s colt in the 2001 renewal.
Taking a lead from pacemakers Broche and Darwin, he followed a scorching tempo behind Grandera, with the well-fancied duo of Tobougg and Black Minnaloushe waiting in the wings.
Fallon waited for as long as he could before he pounced, drawing the Cheveley Park cannon alongside Grandera at the furlong pole and going into a narrow lead with fifty yards to go.
It was timed to perfection. The victory assured Medicean’s stud career and he’d go on to be one of the most successful stallions of his generation.
Notnowcato – 2007
This was arguably Ryan Moore’s greatest ever ride.
Who else would have the steel to take his mount down the near-side in a Group 1, ploughing his own furrow in one of the most important races of the season?
That’s exactly what Moore did.
Rounding the home bend, he drove the Sir Michael Stoute-trained five-year-old away from the field to the other side of the track, urging his mount to run for his life up the rail.
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As the cameras honed in on hot favourite Authorized, bidding to supplement his Derby win, it was 7-1 shot Notnowcato who found the best turn of foot, clearly relishing the different conditions of the untrodden Esher turf.
In the end, victory was quite comprehensive and it cemented Moore’s status as one of the shrewdest pilots in the business.
Watch Notnowcato’s stunning success here
Sea The Stars – 2009
One of the finest colts of all-time, Sea The Stars went to the Eclipse after landing both the Guineas and the Derby – and duly did the business once again.
But as was usually the case with John Oxx’s superstar, he didn’t make it look easy.
Taking on the brutally tough Rip Van Winkle, it was a two-horse race from some way out, with the pair fighting hammer and tongs for Esher supremacy.
2 Sea The Stars and Rip Van Winkle draw clear of the field in the 2009 Coral-EclipseCredit: PA:Press Association
For one brief moment it looked as though Aidan O’Brien’s contender might just get the upper hand, but Sea The Stars’ stamina was proven and he gamely fought on all the way to the line.
Kudos must go to the runner-up, who ran a massive career best – but it just wasn’t good enough.
Watch Sea The Stars’ famous success here
Nathaniel – 2012
He was as tough as they come.
Despite being in the lead almost the entire length of the home straight, John Gosden’s brilliant colt had enough in reserve to see off an army of challengers to land the 2012 renewal.
Under an inspired William Buick, the four-year-old gamely batted away the attentions of ante-post favourite Farhh, pulling out more when it looked for all the world as if the Godolphin inmate would go sailing by.
It would prove to be the son of Galileo’s greatest achievement – though some might argue that came on his debut when he got within half a length of Frankel!
Ulysses – 2017
The great James Joyce would have been proud of writing a finish like this one.
Much of the chat in the lead-up was about derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher, Aidan O’Brien’s colt who appeared to have the world at his hooves.
But he could only watch on.
Approaching the final furlong, it was the lesser-fancied Ulysses who did battle with top miler Barney Roy, the pair fighting tooth and nail up the length of the Sandown home straight.
It was nip and tuck all the way to line, with neither giving an inch.
Passing the post it was almost impossible to split them, but after looking long and hard the stewards gave the verdict to Sir Michael Stoute’s contender.
Named after Homer’s character in his epic poem ‘The Odyssey’, Ulysses showed every quality of that hero – guts, guile and bravery – to land the spoils.